Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Sources for determining sous vide temperatures and times

Modernist Reference

  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:15 PM

I've been using 3 sources to figure out sous vide cooking temperatures and times:

* Sous Vide Dash iPhone app. Technology really is the best way to access this information, given the amount of parameters that go into the decision. The info here takes many more variables into account compared to the different printed tables I've seen elsewhere. such as the type of sous vide setup, beginning temperature, etc. The app is, as a whole, beyond awesome.

However, I noticed that it has no recommendation for "tenderness time" for the different cuts. I picked up a lamb shank, and after consulting the app in the supermarket, I decided I had time to make it for dinner - I needed 5 hours to pasteurize it to core. However, when I consulted my two other sources (below), I realized I really needed 2-3 days. I assume the extra time recommended is "tenderness time". This was disappointing...

* Tables from "Sous vide for the home cook". These give temperature and time for all the most common cuts of meat and fish, for different levels of doneness. It would be redundant with the information in the app, except it includes the full amount of time recommended, including "tenderness time", which can be significant for tough cuts. I also like the fact that they include fruits, grains, and vegetables, which are not included in the app.

* Tables from "Modernist Cuisine". These include target temperatures (sometimes with no recommended cooking times). They're a nice complement to the sources above because they specify the team's personal favorite level of doneness for different cuts. After many experiments, I came to the realization that their favorite doneness is very consistent with mine, and I now follow their recommendations pretty much every time. I also like the fact that they have more ingredients listed than the other two sources, such as octopus and geoduck.

So, for these reasons, I always end up checking all three sources before I cook anything. As much as I'm grateful for having access to information with such variety and quality, I'd much rather check just one source.

What source(s) do you check before cooking something sous vide?

#2 nickrey

nickrey
  • society donor
  • 2,153 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:41 PM

All the above plus temperatures and times that have been put in the eGullet sous vide threads. In addition, many cook books these days from restaurant chefs have times and temps for sous vide cooking that they've experimented with and settled on as most appropriate for their needs.

Bear in mind that a lot of the sources you mentioned have conservative temperatures and time because they are public domain and they want to be very much on the safe side, particularly if immune-suppressed individuals may be fed the meals. Personally I find some of the cooking temperatures would lead to products that do not make the most of cooking sous vide. In these cases, I use experience plus a knowledge of safe sous vide cooking practices in varying the parameters. If you are new to this and/or do not understand the factors involved, don't play at the margins - you could wind up poisoning someone.

As you cook more sous vide, you'll also find your own preferences may diverge from those given in any of these sources. I often look at recommendations from these sources and use different times and temps based on experience and personal preferences.

Until you have experimented with your own preferences, you'll need to continue to consult all these sources. Unfortunately there is no sous vide bible that will meet your needs.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#3 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 01 February 2013 - 02:02 AM

Modernist Cuisine "best bet" tables are always my departure point for a new food, and have rarely dissappointed me. They are by far the most complete source. From there on I experiment, write down the results, and come up with my favorite (or most convenient) combinations.

#4 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 01 February 2013 - 02:23 AM

And I use SousVideDash for computing times for tender cuts, fish, etc, but not for selecting temperatures, I don't much agree with their default choices, they are as nickrey said "on the safe/conservative side", and nothing is given for tough cuts.

#5 Brown Hornet

Brown Hornet
  • participating member
  • 135 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:02 AM

I also use the MC best bet tables all day long, and they are the most comprehensive guide I've seen.

Before that I used Douglas Baldwin's practical guide to sous vide cooking as a starting point which also remains a great reference for sous vide time/temp.

Beyond that the now legendary egullet sous vide thread has a wealth of useful information especially with specific ingredients. Coming across that thread 6 years ago was what led me to join egullet in the first place!

#6 gfweb

gfweb
  • participating member
  • 3,400 posts

Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:04 AM

Baldwin's tables and eG.

#7 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:49 AM

For those of you who rely on MC alone, what do you do for the charts that don't have times? For example: best bets for fish, or tender meats?

I started by using MC alone, but felt the need to search for other sources because of the lack of times for some foods (although I understand why they offer no times for these - the thickness of the cut affects the cooking time more than tough cuts).

#8 KennethT

KennethT
  • participating member
  • 840 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:58 AM

I seem to remember MC having tables relating thickness to time charts. I know Nathan put them in the SV thread a long time ago. Before I got SVDash, I would use the EG thread and MC for temp recs, and then use Nathan's tables (which I printed a long time ago) to get times... Now, SV Dash makes it a lot easier and more accurate.

#9 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:07 PM

For those of you who rely on MC alone, what do you do for the charts that don't have times? For example: best bets for fish, or tender meats?

There are tables of SV times-to-core as a function of shape, width and temperature increment in volume 2. Pasteurization times to add appear on volume 1. Though I prefer to use SousVideDash to compute those times.

#10 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:12 PM

There are tables of SV times-to-core as a function of shape, width and temperature increment in volume 2. Pasteurization times to add appear on volume 1. Though I prefer to use SousVideDash to compute those times.


Good point Enrique - all the information is there, just a little harder to use in printed form.

I've been thinking more about my ideal way to access SV temperatures and times, and I am convinced that software is the best medium. There are so many variables involved that consulting tables in books is cumbersome. In other words, with a few extra features, I think that Sous Vide Dash could become the one and only source I use. Having recommendations for "tenderness time" for tough cuts is a key feature. It would also be nice to see more ingredients (goat, octopus, etc) for the more adventurous cook.

Ideally, I would like to see the MC recommendations in the app, but I understand that may be tricky in terms of rights, etc. Maybe there's some way to work this out?
I would also like some way to store a custom time and temperature for a particular cut of meat. If we can't access MC recommendations in the app, I could see myself entering all of them manually once, and use the app to get the information from then on. It would be a slow and repetitive task, but for me it would be worth it, just so that I could reduce my sources to one.

In the meantime, with the sources we have available today, I think the following works well:

* Tender cuts:
- MC to get the recommended temperature.
- Sous Vide Dash to pick the level of doneness based on that temperature, and to figure out the time based on thickness.

* Tough cuts and less common ingredients:
- MC to get the recommended temperature and time.
- I typically double check with SVHC, but that's probably unnecessary.

#11 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:22 AM

Good point Enrique - all the information is there, just a little harder to use in printed form.

In fact I've never understood why the time-to-temperature tables and pasteurization times were NOT included in the kitchen manual. To me, it was the biggest "usability" error of Modernist Cuisine. With those tables and the "best-bets" sous vide tables in the Kitchen Manual we would have all the relevant data in a single place always at hand in the kitchen.

#12 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:25 AM

If we can't access MC recommendations in the app, I could see myself entering all of them manually once

That's what I have done...

#13 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:34 AM

That's what I have done...


Hu? How did you do that? I don't see a way to enter custom temperatures in Sous Vide Dash... is that what you mean? Or am I missing something?

#14 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:42 AM

Hu? How did you do that? I don't see a way to enter custom temperatures in Sous Vide Dash... is that what you mean? Or am I missing something?

Sorry, not in the app but in a personal spreadsheet.

#15 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:54 AM

Ah, yes, I am also in the other thread where you shared all the details about your spreadsheet - very cool. I also keep a spreadsheet, which is now more complete, inspired by the fields you shared.

I don't necessarily wish the app could replace my spreadsheet. The amount of detail added on each experiment is a personal thing, and it would be very hard to get it right for everyone. But I do wish that the app would have MC's temperature recommendations, or that it would allow me to enter them.

#16 EnriqueB

EnriqueB
  • participating member
  • 268 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 05 February 2013 - 03:11 AM

But I do wish that the app would have MC's temperature recommendations, or that it would allow me to enter them.

Me too. I also wish it would allow me to automatically store the tested combinations with additional info (result, comments...) into some storage system (google docs? the app by Simon and Todd?) so I can remember what I've tried, what worked and what didn't.

Have you suggested this to SVDash author?

#17 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:35 AM

I haven't yet, but I'm going to. The goal of this thread was to organize my ideas and validate them by running them by others. Mission accomplished - thanks for your interest in this.
I will send him email now.

#18 seabream

seabream
  • participating member
  • 181 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:57 AM

I haven't yet, but I'm going to. The goal of this thread was to organize my ideas and validate them by running them by others. Mission accomplished - thanks for your interest in this.
I will send him email now.


Done.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Modernist, Reference